Category Archives: Archdiocese of St Paul
A year in the life of the Twin Cities archdiocese
Madeleine Baran · St. Paul, Minn. · Dec 26, 2014
From the link: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/12/24/archdiocese-cover-up
One of the biggest stories of 2014 was the MPR News investigation of the clergy sex abuse cover-up in the Twin Cities archdiocese.
A year ago this month, a Ramsey County judge forced Archbishop John Nienstedt to release the names of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children. In the months that followed, the archdiocese faced new revelations about how deep the cover-up went and who was involved.
What’s the current state of the scandal?
Much is still happening behind the scenes. Indications are that the archdiocese will file for bankruptcy, though it claims that it hasn’t decided yet. If the archdiocese does file for bankruptcy, all of the church’s finances would be under scrutiny by a federal judge. We don’t know where that would lead or how much money victims would end up receiving.
Has the archdiocese put procedures in place to ensure reform?
Not as far as we can tell. Over the past year and a half, the archdiocese has announced a new task force and appointed various priests and lay people to advise the church on handling abuse complaints, but the structure of the chancery remains the same. The archbishop holds all the power, and does not have to follow anyone’s recommendations. The structure that allowed this cover-up to happen is still in place.
It’s also important to note some context. This isn’t the first time this archdiocese has faced a clergy sex abuse cover-up. Each time, the scandal starts with an allegation that church leaders covered up abuse. Then the archdiocese apologizes, announces new policies, meets with victims and stresses the idea of healing and moving on. Bishops in the 1980s and ’90s said the same things that church leaders say now.
Is Archbishop John Nienstedt still in charge?
He is, but more of his subordinates are making statements and granting interviews on the scandal. In some ways, he is no longer the public face of the archdiocese.
About a year ago, Nienstedt authorized an investigation into his private life. It’s still not over. Nienstedt has promised transparency and accountability, yet the public knows almost nothing about this investigation. We recently learned that the archdiocese has hired another attorney to continue the investigation, but no one at the chancery will tell the public why.
What’s happened between the archdiocese and plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson?
No one had been a louder critic of the archdiocese for its handling of sex abuse cases than Jeff Anderson. He conducted news conferences where he condemned the leaders of the archdiocese and held up photos of priests accused of abuse. That’s not happening anymore. At a news conference, he shook hands with church officials and announced a new era of cooperation. There’s a more or less orderly process of working through claims from abuse victims.
What are victims saying?
We’re just halfway through a three-year window that allows victims of child sexual abuse a chance to sue for older claims. That window closes in May of 2016.
MPR News gets calls from victims who say they haven’t told anyone that they were abused, let alone decided whether to file a lawsuit. A lot of these people are men in their 60s, even their 70s and 80s. Almost every victim says he cannot understand why parishioners aren’t up in arms over the cover-up.
New release reveals alleged pedo-priest was moved around the state
The Diocese of Winona released the names of 14 priests Monday, adding to a growing list of suspected pedophiles throughout the state and confirming what some attorneys and clergy already knew: For decades the Rev. Thomas Adamson moved from parish to parish in the shadow of sexual abuse.
“It is a difficult time for the Church in the Diocese of Winona,” reads a statement. “It is also a time of hope which presents an opportunity to heal and continue moving forward.”
Adamson now appears on both lists produced by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona. According to a lawsuit filed in Ramsey County court, he molested more than 20 boys between 1964 and 1984, when he was finally suspended from the ministry.
On one occasion, in the late 1960s, he allegedly asked two boys to disrobe. In 1974, he admitted to having touched another boy’s genitals at a YMCA, according to the lawsuit. Police were never called.
Midway through his tenure, in 1975, he was dumped on the parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park (and later the Immaculate Conception Church in Columbia Heights). At the time, the lawsuit says, Winona Bishop Loras Watters told Archbishop John Roach that Adamson was being transferred because he needed counseling.
“Despite these clear indications of danger,” attorneys wrote, “Archdiocese Officials took no steps to discover the specific nature of Adamson’s problems or whether he was fit to work with children.”
Adamson is 80 years old and reportedly living in Rochester. We’ve been unable to reach him independently and attempted to speak with him through the archdiocese. We also await a request to speak with church attorneys about several allegations laid out in the lawsuit involving Adamson.
Jim Keenan, a 46-year-old man who claims to have been abused by Adamson as a teenager, criticized church officials at a recent press conference for having taken this long to acknowledge the problem. For years church officials in Winona and St. Paul resisted calls to name names. A judge put an end to that last month.
“Try to put your hands behind the idea that someone has to force a religious organization to protect children,” Keenan said. “That’s crazy.”
The Winona list comes one day after Archbishop John Nienstedt apologized to parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Church in Edina for not having done more to root out abusers. When he became archbishop in 2007, he said, he’d been told the dark dealings were a thing of the past.
Mike Finnegan, a St. Paul attorney representing several abuse victims, disagrees with Nienstedt’s version of reality. As head honcho, Nienstedt was well aware of the complaints in recent years against John Shelly (child porn), Michael Keating (abuse) and Curtis Wehmeyer (child porn and abuse) and even delayed their expulsion from the ministry, Finnegan said.
“He failed to take any personal responsibility or even acknowledge the serious failures that he’s made in handling child sex abuse,” Finnegan added. “Until he does that, we haven’t come close to a true accountability.”
It’s unclear how Nienstedt’s word games will affect ongoing criminal investigations. St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla declined to comment on the significance of Sunday’s mea culpa, saying detectives were preoccupied with finding victims. A “handful or less” have come forward, Padilla said, since the archdiocese’s list was released Dec. 5.
“We’re going to do everything we can to treat their cases with the respect they deserve,” he added.
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on church officials in other parts of the state to release their own lists, which were produced privately about a decade ago. For instance, the Diocese of St. Cloud has yet to release 26 names and the Diocese of Duluth has yet to release 17.
Last week, St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville voluntarily released the names of 18 monks who, in the monastery’s own words, “likely have offended against minors.” Seven of those men are dead, two have been “dispensed from their religious vows” and — remarkably — nine are still toiling away “under supervised safety plans.”
Victims advocates complaint that the list doesn’t include four previously named monks — John Eidenschink, Steven Lilly, James Kelly and Isaac Connolly — and a former abbot, now deceased, Timothy Kelly.
Brother Aelred Senna, an abbey spokesman, did not return a message seeking comment. However, a statement he previously released notes that the task of compiling and releasing the list was
complicated by the passage of time, the deaths of some of those involved and sometimes incomplete accounts of the past. Even so, we are including all 18 names to provide as complete of a list as we can to acknowledge the pain suffered by victims.
Finnegan, the attorney, said his law firm has been in touch with police about the allegations of the abbey monks.
“It alarms us that these men are still on the campus up there at St. John’s with hundreds of students around,” he said. “They can’t possibly monitor these men 24 hours a day.”
The list released Monday by the Diocese of Winona. (Assignment details for anyone other than Adamson can be found by clicking on the name.)
Thomas P. Adamson
Date of Birth: July 12, 1933
Date of Ordination: May 31, 1958
June 13, 1958 – Saint Casimir, Winona, MN
June 13, 1958 – Cotter High School, Winona, MN
June 16, 1961 – Saint Adrian, Adrian, MN
June 16, 1961 – Saint Adrian High School, Adrian, MN
August 16, 1962 – Lourdes High School, Rochester, MN
August 20, 1963 – Saint John’s, Caledonia, MN
November 30, 1964 – Lourdes High School, Rochester, MN
June 8, 1966 – Saint Clement, Hammond, MN
June 15, 1967 – Saint Theodore, Albert Lea, MN
August 14, 1968 – Saint Lawrence, Fountain, MN and Saint Kilian, Wykoff, MN
June 24, 1971 – Saint Francis of Assisi, Rochester, MN
June 17, 1976 – Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Paul Park, MN
1979 – Immaculate Conception Church, Columbia Heights, MN
Ministerial Status: Suspended from ministry in 1984 and laicized (2009)
Current Address: Rochester, MN
Sylvester F. Brown – Deceased 2010
Joseph C. Cashman – Permanently removed from ministry in 1992; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal
Louis G. Cook – Deceased 2004
William D. Curtis – Deceased 2001
John R. Feiten – Deceased 2001
Richard E. Hatch – Deceased 2005
Ferdinand L. Kaiser – Deceased 1973
Jack L. Krough – Permanently removed from ministry in 2002; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal
Michael J. Kuisle – Deceased 1971
James W. Lennon -Deceased 2000
Leland J. Smith – Permanently removed from ministry in 1994; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal
Robert H. Taylor – Deceased 2012
Leo Charles Koppala – Administrative leave pending outcome of criminal proceedings in Faribault County, Minnesota
The accused monks of St. John’s Abbey, the first nine of whom are still active:
Andre Bennett – deceased
Robert Blumeyer – deceased
Cosmas Dahlheimer – deceased
Othmar Hohmann – deceased
Dominic Keller – deceased
Pirmin Wendt – deceased
Bruce Wollmering – deceased
Francis Hoefgen – no longer at the abbey
John Kelly – no longer at the abbey
Published Date Thursday, April 24,2014
From the Link: http://www.berlindailysun.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49465:frank-laferriere-support-the-victims-not-the-victimizers&catid=73:letter&Itemid=428
To the editor:
If you were to find out that the leadership of a group or organization you belonged to had appeared before commissions and grand juries and openly admitted to covering up the abuses of children, from rape to severe beatings, to even the death of a child, and that this involved tens of thousands of members own children, and that the cover ups are wide spread throughout the organization or group, you would think that the membership of the group would rise up in arms and make sure that the leadership is arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows. That they would stand up and defend and protect their children over the leadership of their group or organization. Yet there is one such organization…though there are others….that its leadership is totally immune from liability for crimes such as these by it’s membership. This organization is known as the Roman Catholic Church.
While they have come far with this problem of child abuse, the Vatican announced that for 2011-2012 almost 400 priests had to be let go because of credible accusations of child abuse, including rape, there is still much to be done. While it is commendable that they caught and fired these priests, what about those whom participated in the cover ups of these crimes? Why are they not called to account for their crimes of the members own children? Why are the leadership of the church put above the law and those whom they have harmed? Why are they defended and even praised or made a saint?
There have been at least a half a dozen commission reports, like the Ryan Report, that detail the systematic sexual, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse of children and teens, children of the Roman Catholic Church; and the cover ups of these abuses by the leaders and even their highest leaders, ones whom are supposed to be the Vicars of Jesus while on this earth and in their position. Yet even to this day, not one credibly accused leader has ever been arrested or prosecuted for their crimes save one, Bishop Robert Finn and that case is being retried. Matter of fact, one of these, John Paul II was given sainthood. There is overwhelming evidence he participated in the cover up of and through acts of omission, turned a blind eye to, the pederast Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ. Yet he is given sainthood? This is an insult to all those whom are survivors of these evil crimes against us.
There are some incredible priests and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. I have met some of them. From Fr Tom Doyle, ret., whom has fought tirelessly for the victims of priest abuse, at the cost of his being a priest, to even our own local priest Fr Kyle Stanton whom has helped me immensely, to groups like Catholic Whistleblowers, and others, they have sort of restored my faith that this problem of priests and nuns abusing children and teens will stop. Yet to truly set things right the following must be done.
1. All credibly accused leaders, from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, to Cardinals like Timothy Dolan, Donald Wuerl, Roger Mahony, Bernard Law, George Pell, and many others, against whom there is overwhelming evidence, through commission reports, grand jury testimonies and the churches own documents, must be fired. They must be arrested and prosecuted. We do this to other criminals, we demand this of any rapist or those whom cover up the rapes and abuses of children. They may be leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, but these men are criminals and deserve to be arrested and prosecuted and the victims deserve their day in court and justice for the crimes committed against them because of these leaders actions.
2. Abide by the Pledge to Protect, Promise to Heal charter all of the diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States signed. All attacks against the victims must stop. We are not responsible for our rapes, we did not enjoy being raped. We are not homosexuals because we were raped by a male priest. We are not liars, gold diggers who are out looking for a payday from the Roman Catholic Church.
We are your sons, we are your daughters, who want justice, whom want those who perpetrated these crimes against us punished, whom went through one of the most horrifying and terrifying experiences a human being can go through. We trusted these priests and nuns and they destroyed that trust with their evil crimes against us. We were raped, we were beaten, we had our souls, our hearts stolen from us, we had our bodies destroyed and abused. We did not deserve this, we were not willing participants and we refuse to remain silent while those whom are responsible for these crimes against us go free while we still remain trapped inside the prisons they created for us.
3. No matter what….put your children before your leaders. Protect and stand up and defend your children….not the leaders whom committed these evils against us. Your children should come first. Stand up for the victims of these crimes, whom are your own children. You may know one. Again, we are your sons, your daughters, your nieces and nephews, your God children, whom you vowed and promised to protect and defend.
I started going back to church. I even started photographing St Annes, an incredibly beautiful place of worship. I had no choice though, I had to stop because I felt like such a hypocrite. Far too many of us whom were victims still see those responsible for these evils against us in their positions as if nothing in the world is wrong. We victims are still being attacked, by people like Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League. We are still being attacked by parishioners whom have called me a liar to my face and how dare I spread lies and rumors and false accusations and gossip against the leaders. Well, sadly, I am not spreading lies, rumors and false accusations, these statements I have made can all be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law if it were allowed.
Yet while these leaders whom perpetrated these crimes against us are still in power, I cannot in good conscious go into the church. I cannot be part of a church where the leadership covered up the crimes of child abuse, child rape and put the church before the children and are still in power, for that makes me a hypocrite in my eyes.
I would love to go on a regular basis to St Anne, to be among the other worshipers, some of whom I made acquaintance and even friends with, especially Fr Kyle, but I cannot, for while the wolves are still in control….someone must stand outside the door for the defense and protection of the children and the victims.
Sin is one thing…sin can be forgiven when there is true repentance from the sin. There has been no true repentance among the leadership whom covered up these crimes. There have been staged acts of contrition, but no true repentance. For if they are to truly repent they must also submit to prosecution for the crimes they committed. They must not hide behind their robes of religion. If they seek to make laws for man like they do, they also must submit to the laws of man and be arrested and prosecuted for their crimes. No one, not even religious leaders, should be allowed to get away with crimes against children. They should not be above the law!
When it comes time to the crimes of the rapes and abuses of children and teens and the cover up of these crimes by the leadership…only justice in a court of law, where the victims may have their day in court to see those responsible for the crimes against them be tried and if found guilty sentenced to prison…that is true justice. The Roman Catholic Church promised this to victims and to prosecuting attorneys…but have failed to deliver on this promise. Instead they still fight the victims and hide behind the statue of limitations to deny justice to the victims. Ask yourself is this true justice? If you were raped would you say this is true justice?
In closing whom do you think Jesus Christ will stand up for in the end?
Those whom perpetrated these crimes against children and teens…or the children and teen victims?
Here is a clue: “For it would be better for you to tie a huge boulder around your neck and throw yourself into the deepest of lakes than to harm a single hair on the head of a child.”
Well the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church did a lot more than harm a hair on the head of a child. Whom are you going to stand besides? The ones Jesus Christ would stand up for? Or the ones He would toss into the pit of hell for their evils against children?
Frank LaFerriere, Berlin
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League being sued for defamation against priest abuse survivor
Missouri (USA): Catholic church dares to defame a man after he accuses priest of sex abuse, claiming he is a drug-abusing murderer
INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI (USA) — The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights defamed a man who says he is a victim of priestly sex abuse as a drug-abusing murderer and a Catholic-hating bigot, the man claims in court.
Jon David Couzens Jr. sued The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, its President William Donohue, the KC Catholic League, KC Catholic League President Joe McLiney and KC Catholic League Capacity Secretary James O’Laughlin, in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Couzens claims Donohue defamed him in statements responding to the Kansas City Star’s three-part series on priestly abuse, written by Judy Thomas in December 2011.
The series centered around Couzens’ claims – and subsequent lawsuit against the KC Diocese, Msgr. Thomas O’Brien and Fr. Isaac True – that he and three other altar boys, one of whom committed suicide, were sexually abused in the early 1980s.
“Thomas’ entire soap-opera yarn concerns the allegations of Jon David Couzens,” Donohue said in a statement posted on the Catholic League’s website.
“He says that a priest molested him and three other altar boys back in the early 1980s. But why should we believe a man who only now is coming forward with his tale – he never told a single soul – especially given the fact that he has been implicated in a murder? Thomas never told readers that on the night Mark Trader was murdered about a dozen years ago, Couzens got into a fight with him over a botched drug deal, and although another man was convicted, on appeal it was alleged that Couzens and two other men had ‘motive to commit the murder and the opportunity to do so.’ This is public record, so why the cover up?”
Couzens’ attorney, Rebecca Randles, told Courthouse News she has no idea where Donohue came up with the drug and murder implications. Randles said in an interview that that to her knowledge Couzens has never been subject to any drug or murder-related charges.
In the lawsuit, Couzens claims that he reported Trader’s murder in April 1992 to police, after the killer confessed to him. He claims in the lawsuit that he received a commendation from now-Sen. Claire McCaskill for his good citizenship in the murder investigation and trial.
Donohue ramped up his criticism in another statement on Dec. 8, 2011, speculating on the timing of Couzens’ abuse lawsuit with the emergence of a lawsuit filed earlier that year against the K.C.
Diocese and priest Shawn Ratigan. That lawsuit claimed the Diocese waited nearly 6 months before reporting child pornography found on Ratigan’s computer.
“Couzens may be a hero to the Star, but his character is indeed questionable: he was implicated in a murder,” Donohue said in the statement. “Why hasn’t the Star revealed this to its readers? Does it want to ‘silence’ its critics? Why did Couzens wait 30 years before he told his ‘wrenching’ tale? Because the time was ripe to cash in after Fr. Ratigan’s name hit the papers?”
Randles said her client is not a gold-digger, and that the 30-year delay that Donohue finds suspicious is actually quite normal.
“If the memories are repressed or suppressed, there is no way to bring forth the accusations earlier,” Randles said in the interview. “Also, the average age of (priest) abuse is 12. The average age to report is 42. So 30 years is a common time frame.”
Couzens claims that Donohue’s statements falsely portray him as a drug-abusing killer and a Catholic hating bigot. Donohue’s statements were intended to incite and inflame people to confront Couzens, the lawsuit states.
As a result, Couzens says, he has been physically assaulted, cursed at on the streets, suffered emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.
Couzens said in a statement that he did not come forward just for himself.
“In the big picture it is a very sad thing that William Donohue and the Catholic League are attacking those who the Priesthood has already abused,” Couzens said in the statement. “I am not doing this just for me. I now understand why other victims don’t come forward. The things said about me are so cruel and offensive they cut to the core of my being. Others who don’t have my support would cower under these attacks.”
Randles said that statements such as Donohue’s are a common tactic by the Catholic League against those who claim to be abused by priests. She said the Catholic League attempts to bully and harass victims to deter them from moving forward.
Catholic League officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Couzens seeks actual and punitive damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“Mr. Donohue has been an outspoken and pugnacious defender of the church,” Randles said. “It’s our hope that he will align himself with things that are factually true.”
Randles said Couzen’s abuse lawsuit filed in 2011 against the KC Diocese and O’Brien is set for trial in April. The suit against True has been settled.
You Parishioners on here find my postings insulting and degrading, you find my words disgusting and nasty. Well I would ask YOU to read this posting. It will NOT be full of my swears but it speaks the truth. I just want you all to hear, from the words of a Priest Rape Survivor why we cannot forgive you just yet.
When I was diagnosed with PTSD over my priest rape and soul torture, I thought it was bull. I believed that the ONLY people whom could be classified as someone with PTSD were soldiers or those in war zones. Then my therapist started explaining to me what a person whom they diagnose with PTSD goes through, what their life is like…it was like they wrote most of that definition for me.
Yet people still think what I went through can simply go away if I just get over it, forgive the priest, forgive the church, forgive those whom harmed me.
That if I just forget…somehow this will make me all better.
What those whom think this way do not realize, for 33 years I hid what that priest did to me. I felt guilty, I hated myself for what he did to me. I called myself the Antichrist because of it.
When I thought I was the ONLY one who got raped by a priest…once I came out and started raising my voice about this evil…I found there were tens of thousands of us. Then I found out what the leadership did to protect the rapists and not us. Then I found they continue to rape us and harm us by their actions against us.
They continue to deny us justice. They just wish we would shut up and go away. They insult us, denigrate us, call us faggots, say we enjoyed and wanted what happened to us. They call us liars and gold diggers. They say we should look at others whom do the same thing.
How can anyone with what I or others went through EVER hope to get any healing from this, hope to ever find it in our hearts to forgive those whom harmed us…when they continue to do this to us?
Whom do you think Jesus Christ is going to one day, heal our pain and wipe away our tears, take away the never ending nightmares we suffer from because what those whom called themselves priests, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and even Popes did to cover this evil up? I have some hope with Pope Francis…we survivors had none with Pope Benedict.
I onced loved the RCC with all of my heart and soul. When I was a young boy taking my Catechism and doing my First Communion…I was hooked to the beauty and the mysticism and most of all…the love of God and Jesus Christ. That I just had the incredible honor of having my first Communion, of taking the Holy Body and Blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into me and that meant the world to me at that moment.
That was taken away from me in one night due to the perversities of a priest. Whom that night decided his vows he made to God, Jesus Christ and all of us did not matter, that his lusts mattered, and in that night…he took the soul, the faith and the life of a scared, young boy whom had just ran away from a foster home and thought the next day he was going to go to prison til he was 18 for it.
So when YOU PARISHIONERS hear us survivors of these crimes against us, speak out in anger, speak out in pain, speak out in horror about the evils done to us…do not condemn us…help us…help us heal from all of this suffering, all of this pain. Stand up for us. Stand up for your children. I know if you are true to the church…you have some God children. Remember the vows YOU TOOK…to protect and defend the life of this baby…with your very own if you need to.
If this is true to your heart and soul, if you took vows like these and you felt them burn within you…then do this again. Take the vow again to stand up and defend the Children of the Roman Catholic Church.
Help us heal our pain, help us heal our suffering. Help us.
Former Promoter of Justice for Congregation of the Faith Addresses Canon Law Society about Abuse Situation: For Whom Is Canon Law Designed?
Former Promoter of Justice for Congregation of the Faith Addresses Canon Law Society about Abuse Situation: For Whom Is Canon Law Designed?
From the blog: Bilgrimage
1. Pastoral leaders must find “the courage to tell victims to move on,” to stop creating “a persona out of being victims.”
2. “A tragic consequence of abuse is the loss of faith — a loss of faith in a God who is compassionate, merciful and loving. I have met victims who have renounced the faith as a consequence of what they suffered, and my attitude is silence and prayer.”
3. “The victims evangelize us.”
As long as we have bishops (with canonists who think as Rev. [Reginald] Whitt [of St. Paul-Minneapolis] does to advise them) who assume that their primary pastoral responsibility as bishops, bolstered by canon law itself, is to “save” pedophile priests while ignoring the needs of the people of God, we’ll continue to have dangerous priests placed by bishops in positions in which they’ll have access to minors. And we’ll have cover-ups.
Catholic priest recalls fleeing after sex abuse confession
9/9/13 By Gillian Flaccus of Associated Press
The Rev. Carlos Rodriguez’s account of his flight after confessing to molesting a boy was among files released Monday under the terms of a lawsuit settlement.
LOS ANGELES — The orders the Rev. Carlos Rodriguez got from his religious superiors after he confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy just hours before were swift and decisive: Leave immediately. Check into a motel. Don’t tell anyone where you are going. Await further instructions.
Rodriguez, then 31, picked up cash and waited by the phone. The next day, the regional leader of his religious order called and told him to book a plane ticket out of state. By the time the victim’s family went to police, he had checked in at a residential treatment center for troubled priests in Maryland.
“I felt like a fugitive. But what else could I do under the circumstances. I had no other choice but to follow orders,” he wrote years later in an essay that was included in his Vatican petition to be defrocked.
The essay was part of a 303-page confidential personnel file on the priest that was released Monday along with files for five other priests who were also accused of molesting children while working for their Roman Catholic religious orders — the Vincentians, the Norbertines and the Augustinians — while on assignment in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Rodriguez’s file stands out because it includes a candid and detailed autobiographical account of his actions in 1987 and the steps his religious superiors took to shield him from the family and civil authorities.
The file also makes clear that officials with Rodriguez’s religious order, the Vincentians, and the LA archdiocese worked together to intercede. Both knew of Rodriguez’s confession, but no one spoke with police until the boy’s family filed a police report a month later, according to the file.
“The thing that Carlos Rodriguez does is, he lays out the truth, the underbelly, and exposes that for all that it is,” said Ray Boucher, a lead plaintiff attorney in the clergy litigation who secured the release of the files.
The religious order files are the second set to be released and more are expected in the coming weeks as religious orders comply with the final terms of a 2007 settlement with hundreds of clergy abuse victims in Los Angeles.
The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests, but the full picture of the problem has remained elusive without records from the religious orders, which routinely assigned priests to work in Los Angeles parishes.
Without access to Rodriguez, the police case dried up and the priest was back at work within seven months, where he molested two brothers. Rodriguez, who was defrocked in 1998, was convicted of that abuse 17 years later, in 2004, and sentenced to prison. He was released in 2008.
Now 57, he lives as a registered sex offender in Huntington Park, a gritty, industrial city southeast of Los Angeles. He has been accused of abuse in at least five civil lawsuits.
“It still weighs heavy on me,” Rodriguez, who wore a cross around his neck, said on Monday when reached at his apartment. “It’s nothing proud to talk about. I still feel remorse and it still hurts.”
The Rev. Jerome Herff, the Vincentian regional provincial who told Rodriguez to leave LA after his 1987 confession and placed him back in ministry the following year, said he urged him to leave because the boy’s family was irate and he feared for the priest’s safety. The treatment center, he said, was recommended by a law enforcement authority, although he declined to say who.
“I did what I thought was best and had to be done and what happened, happened,” Herff said in a brief phone interview. “I’ve lived with this for years and I just don’t want to go back there anymore.”
Rodriguez’s troubles began when he took two teenage boys on a trip to the Grand Canyon in 1987, roughly a year after he was ordained. The three checked into a Holiday Inn in Flagstaff, Ariz., and in his essay, Rodriguez wrote he began molesting one teen who was asleep on the floor.
The boy awoke and the novice priest, terrified at being discovered, drove nearly 500 miles through the night to deliver both teens to their families and immediately went back to his parish, where he took a shower and confessed.
The Vincentians sent him to the residential treatment center. While there, Rodriguez fretted in letters home about the “seriousness of the law in Arizona” that could get him up to 15 years in prison and asked the Vincentians for character references that would convince the Arizona prosecutor not to press charges.
When the family contacted the Los Angeles police a month later, Rodriguez’s superior told the investigating detective that the “church was aware of the situation and the defendant was currently hospitalized,” according to court papers.
The victim’s former attorney, Drew Antablin, said his client, who could not be reached for comment, was part of a larger settlement with the church in 2007.
After his release, Rodriguez was assigned to work for the archdiocese’s office of family life in Santa Barbara in 1988 and then to St. Mary’s Seminary in Santa Barbara. He took a leave of absence in 1993 after complaints of abuse surfaced again — but his superiors soon discovered he was saying Mass in a neighboring county in violation of his status.
In 1996, Rodriguez asked the Vatican to be defrocked and was exiled from the priesthood two years later.
In 2004, he pleaded guilty to molesting two brothers whom he met in 1988, just after his return to ministry. “He used his position in the church and used the victims’ faith as a weapon against them,” said Deputy District Attorney Anthony Wold, who handled that case. “It was outrageous and unforgiveable.”
Associated Press Writer Greg Risling reported from Los Angeles and Huntington Park, Calif.